Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
 

P.G. Wodehouse (below) is back in the spotlight 36 years after his death, as newly released documents from the British archives reignite suspicions the author had had a more cosy relationship with the Nazis than he had let on. A cursory look into the saga, however, would reveal the 'scandal' to be little more than a storm brewed up in the teacups of his literary rivals, by far the most vocal being A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh ...

The lovable character was named after a teddy bear owned by the author's son, who had named his toy after an attraction in London Zoo. That Winnie was a black bear named after Winnipeg, the hometown of the Canadian vet who bought the animal for US$20 during the first world war. The stories have been translated into several languages, including a 1958 version called Winnie ille Pu. The only book entirely in Latin to appear on The New York Times best-sellers list was written by Alexander Lenard ...

The Hungarian physician, writer, translator, painter, musician and poet immigrated to Brazil for no better reason than 'it looked large and green on the map'. However, his Vienna medical degree was not recognised in the country and the polymath was at first forced to work as a nurse. He built the family home with money he received for winning a 1956 Sao Paulo Television quiz about the life and times of Johann Sebastian Bach ...

The German composer, whom Beethoven described as the 'urvater der harmonie' (the father of harmony), was a compassionate citizen and among his many cantatas was one bemoaning an affliction plaguing 18th-century Leipzig: coffee addiction. 'Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht' (be still, stop chattering) was published in 1734. His work has since been adopted by a Red Bull-sponsored break-dancing troupe, who claim Bach was the Michael Jackson of his day ...

The not-quite Peter Pan of Pop, who once attributed his changing appearance to a strict vegetarian diet, had myriad idiosyncrasies - a fondness for sharing his bed with prepubescent boys (astonishingly with their parents' consent) notwithstanding. In 2002, he succeeded in indelibly spreading the use of his detested nickname 'Wacko Jacko' by dangling his son Blanket over the balcony of Berlin's Adlon Hotel ...

Originally built in 1907, the Adlon has earned its place in the history books, appearing in the iconic 1972 film Cabaret and an episode of Doctor Who. It was also the inspiration for the room in which Greta Garbo famously whispered, 'I vant to be alone.' The hotel is at the centre of a wartime controversy, with claims the Nazi Party invited, and footed the bill of, another of its famous residents, a genius who immortalised the British aristocracy as bumbling buffoons, P. G. Wodehouse.

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